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Detroit Metro Area Legal Blog

Avoiding mistakes when buying a residential property

Buying a home can be a wonderful step for your family, but purchasing real estate can be an arduous and complicated process. From inspections to transferring the title, there are many steps before you can take ownership and move into your new Michigan home. Due to the complicated and expensive nature of this process, it is important to make every effort to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.

What if estate planning benefited you now and later?

Many people delay writing a will. Perhaps it's due to fear of the unknown, or anxiety at the thought of the end of life. It's understandable. You may have thought about what you'd like to happen when you die, but you're afraid to put it in writing because it feels too serious or final. Even if you're middle-aged, you might still be putting it off. Isn't estate planning for "old people"?

Yet for those who haven't yet created a will or living trust, there are a dozen reasons to do so. One way to look at it is that once you take the step, you'll be able to put a lot of worries about the future to rest.

What will happen to your digital afterlife?

In past generations, family members, fiduciaries and other individuals often had to scour through safe-deposit boxes, desks and boxes to gather documents and photos left behind by a loved one. As our culture continues to move further away from paper toward a paperless society, more and more assets and memories are stored in the cloud. Our digital lifestyle has made it vital for individuals to address digital assets in estate planning documents, such as a will and powers of attorney.

Michigan Law Allows You To Define Access To Your Digital Afterlife

Many digital accounts hold assets that may be sentimental in nature, or financially important. In this digital age, Michigan law provides authority under the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADAA). Estate planning attorney Howard H. Collens recently appeared on WXYZ-TV in Detroit to discuss how individuals can address their digital legacies should they become incapacitated or pass away.

Should your estate make room for frozen embryos?

When most people hear the phrase "estate plan," they usually associate the task of allocating assets, assigning executors and beneficiaries, and establishing trusts to elderly folks with money. What is actually the case is that most individuals who have assets benefit from developing an estate plan. In the past, drawing up a list of assets and property could involve cars, sentimental items, a house or money saved in a banking account.

If you have been following our blog, you know that the items that can be included in an estate plan today vary from tangible to the conceptual, located in a deposit box or an online account. Due to the law's ever-evolving recognition of what constitutes an asset, estate plans may need to be updated to reflect the variety of assets an individual possesses. The same can be said for the diverse set of beneficiaries that can be referenced in the documents that constitute an estate plan.

Understanding tax deeds and quiet title actions in Michigan

The residential and commercial real estate markets in Detroit, and throughout Michigan, have been taken on a proverbial roller-coaster ride in recent years. Despite past turmoil, investing in real estate remains a vital interest for homeowners, investors and businesses alike. Protecting financial interests in any real estate investment is critical. With many properties changing hands due to tax liens foreclosure, mortgage foreclosure and multiple investment transactions, the risk of finding a cloud on the title to a specific piece of property is real.

Sales Of Foreclosed and Tax-Forfeited Properties Remain High In Michigan

Sales of tax-forfeited properties and foreclosed properties increased dramatically following the real estate market meltdown in 2007, according to MiBiz. The upward trend has continued, creating an increase in property available through tax auctions each year. Investors, future homeowners and businesses can often purchase real estate at low cost in a tax auction. These transactions, however, can be more complex than a more traditional real estate transaction. Notably, the Foreclosing Governmental Unit (FGU) will typically transfer the property through a quit-claim deed, providing the buyer with whatever title the FGU held - which could include a variety of defects that cloud the title.

Unmarried cohabitating couples face unique estate issues

Unmarried couples who live together in Michigan face a unique set of legal matters related to estate and probate planning. Couples who live together but aren't married may be doing so for a variety of reasons. Usually, these types of couples are younger and do not believe in the institution of marriage, or they are elderly and have a more platonic, financially-centered relationship.

Whatever the reason, unmarried couples are not afforded the same set of estate and probate planning securities as married couples. Although it is rarely cited or enforced, Michigan is one of just a few states where it is technically illegal to cohabitate as an unmarried couple. However, a bill issued in the 2016 legislative session, Senate Bill 896, reached the Senate floor with a recommendation to pass.

Understanding Powers of Attorney in Michigan

No matter how much we try, we cannot predict the future. The best we can do is to prepare for it. If you are at any point unable to manage your assets and affairs, you will want someone in charge of all of these things whom you have chosen and that you know has your best interests in mind. When someone is in the position of legally making decisions on behalf of another, they are known as having power of attorney.

A power of attorney is just a legal document. It provides a person of your choosing with the ability to act in your place should you ever be unable to do so yourself. There are a few forms of a power of attorney and they all have specific roles to perform.

Contesting a will in Michigan

If you suspect the will your loved one left is not what they intended it to be, you may have grounds to contest their will. Contesting a will simply means that you are concerned about the validity of the document. Although this is somewhat rare, it is certainly possible, but before you can contest the will you must meet certain qualifications.

In the state of Michigan, you must be a beneficiary of the will, if there is a will, or an individual who would have inherited if the deceased did not have a will when they died. These titles usually apply to spouses, children, parents, etc. It should be noted that even though most wills have a clause in them that specifically states that anyone who contests the will is immediately unable to inherit, Michigan law states that a no-contest clause is not enacted if there are legitimate grounds for contesting the will.

Information first-time Michigan landlords should know

Buying and renting property represents a significant investment for landlords. If you are unfamiliar with the process it can be intimidating, especially if you are renting out property for the first time, but when done correctly it can go smoothly while also providing a consistent source of income. Each state has its own landlord-tenant laws so it is important to become familiar with them before renting out property.

The choice of a tenant is one that should be made careful, as you want your property treated well and with due respect. While landlords in Michigan are free to deny applicants based on factors like poor prior renting practices or bad credit, you must ensure that you comply with all fair housing laws. Under state and federal law, applicants cannot be denied housing due to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status (having children), disability, age, or marital status.

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